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Metro back to normal, but long queues at airports due to police protest
We have good news and bad news. The strike by Stib metro drivers this week has come to an end, with metros now back on their normal schedule. Federal police agents stationed at airports, however, are involved in a protest action, leading to delays at passport control.
Passengers heading to Brussels and Charleroi airports should arrive extra early for their flights departing today, tonight and possibly over the weekend. The advice is given to those traveling outside the Schengen Area, whose passports must be checked.
The federal police who check the passports are doing an extremely thorough job with everyone, causing long queues. So many passengers were late for their flights today that airlines delayed flights until everyone could get on board.
‘Same pay for 20 years’
Police are protesting at a break-down in talks regarding compensation as well as a reform of the pension scheme. The department is also facing potential budget cuts. “We haven’t seen pay rises in 20 years’ time,” Joery Dehaes of the ACV Politie union told VRT. “The current offer on the table is unacceptable to us.”
The protest is likely to continue through the weekend and even longer if negotiations with the interior minister do not deliver what unions are demanding. Anyone flying outside the Schengen zone should arrive at least 2.5 hours ahead of their flights if they have luggage to check, about two hours if not.
Other delays could affect passengers within the Schengen zone, especially as the start of the school holiday is upon us. Passengers are advised to check their airline’s website before heading to the Brussels or Charleroi airport.
Metro union in talks
Stib metro drivers, meanwhile, are back to work today, after a strike this week caused delays on all the lines. It was only drivers represented by the liberal unions who downed tools, so metros ran with minor delays. During rush hours, even minor delays cause crowds to gather on platforms and crowded metro cars, with Stib calling the strike “completely irresponsible during the corona crisis”.
The socialist and Christian-democrat unions signed an agreement with Stib management yesterday, but the liberals were not satisfied. The problem hinges on a heavy workload, lack of breaks and a lack of spare parts for metro cars and engines.
Absenteeism because of stress “was already problematic before corona,” union rep Stephan De Muelenaere told Bruzz. “The workload is the same, and now sick days have increased exponentially because of corona. “For spare parts, we have to go looking in trains that have been in accidents and so are not being used, without any guarantee that these parts are adequate. There is no quality control anymore.”
The union is continuing talks with Stib today.
Photo ©Darius Savolskis/Twitter